Run Like Mad

All things finally considered, since when does what you planned matter?(MK)

I've been on my knees,

crawling towards eternity

looking for the piece of me that always got away.

And I've been so afraid to stand my ground

so I simply close my eyes, bite my lip

and swallow every tear

Sorry For Myself – Jann Arden

Life was definitely not what she expected it to be. Not that she expected normalcy, that would be ridiculous. Honestly, had you told her what would happen on her fifteenth birthday three hundred and sixty five days before, she'd have laughed at you, but now, on the anniversary of her 18th year, she still found herself surprised. After all, she'd never expected this outcome.

Naraku had been dead for a year. That was a blessing and a relief. The jewel was completed and everyone lived to tell the tale. Inuyasha was still a hanyou. Shippou was still adorable – and attached to her hip, Kohaku had lived, and Kikyo was finally laid to rest. Happy ending, right?

Except... except that everything had turned out wrong. Sango and Miroku never got married, the monk had simply disappeared one night without a word. Heartbroken but stoic, Sango had left too, following rumors of a village of demon slayers to the north. And Inuyasha...

Well, he hadn't loved her after all. He couldn't have. After a few weeks of moping around Kaede's village, he'd left for the woods, telling Kagome that hanging around humans all day was driving him nuts. But it wasn't the humans, it was her face, the perpetual reminder of his ill-fated love.

And so here she was, apprenticed to Kaede and serving as a second miko to the village. It's not like she had anywhere else to go, the well had been destroyed in the final battle. She couldn't go back home, but had comforted herself with the knowledge that her companions were with her, and together, they could be the family that none had alone.

Kagome really hated it when she was wrong.

When she'd gone to bathe that morning, she'd spent a solid ten minutes staring at her own reflection in the pool. She felt as though she'd aged a decade since her first arrival in the Warring States, but in reality, she'd only grown up. Her face had matured, dropping the last shades of childhood, making her appear so adult. After all this time of convincing herself that she wasn't Kikyo, she looked even more like the dead miko.

Life could be so unfair. Particularly when even after he'd left for good, her heart still thumped painfully when she thought of the hanyou. She couldn't help her face, and she'd had no choice whose soul she carried. But he couldn't let go and left. Her tears splashed the pool, distorting her own image enough for her to break from the misery. She bathed quickly then, willing herself to get lost in the bevy of chores waiting for her.

At least in her work, she could forget the loneliness that lanced through her.

It was in the middle of tending Kaede's herb garden that she first noticed the ruckus coming from the village. Standing stiffly, she wiped the dirt from her clothes and stretched. Their village was remote and small – travelers were few. They had no inn nor shelter for travelers other than the hut that she and Kaede shared. Pressing her way though the spectators, she stepped forward to greet the stranger. "Welcome to our village, I am the Miko Kagome-" Only to find that this stranger was no stranger at all, but a young boy she knew by name, "Kohaku?"

He smiled shakily, dismounting from Kilala, who immediately shrank to what Kagome privately thought of as her 'fun size'. "Hello, Kagome-sama."

Tears leaked from the corner of her eyes as she hugged him, grateful for some reminder of her past, a familiar face she'd thought she'd never see again. "It's so good to see you, Kohaku." She knew she was probably choking the life out of the poor boy, but by god, it was good to see him.

"My sister sends her best wishes. She misses you very much. In fact, she's the reason I'm here."

Kagome's heart felt like it was going to burst with happiness. Nearly a year of separation from the woman she'd thought of as her sister had been hard on her, her departure worse. In her bleakest times she'd felt that maybe her friendship with Sango was a figment of her imagination, and that the woman had seen her only as another traveler with the same destination, and that had hurt, but knowing the woman missed her was, well it was important. "Is she alright? Is she happy in her new village? Are you happy there? Tell me everything!" Losing whatever shred of decorum that had been in her initial greeting, she dragged the poor boy by the wrist, determined to get every bit of news from the last year from him.

And he, well, he was nice enough to go along with it.

As soon as soon as she'd gotten him in her hut and served him some tea, (and summoned Kaede of course.) He began to answer her questions. "Yes, Sango and I are happy. Our village is a true home to us and yes, she's fine. In fact, she's ecstatic."


"Well," he smiled, fully this time, "She's getting married."

Kagome could have fainted, "Married?"

"To Hirohito-san. He is the greatest hunter in the village. She would like... well, she was wondering if you'd be there." He looked at her questioningly, although Kagome thought it was silly of him to do so. After all...

"There's no way I'd miss that! When do we have to leave! Oh, I have to find Shippou, he'd want to come too." and suddenly, Kagome was a whirlwind of activity, snatching her battered yellow backpack from it's hiding place and throwing random items inside. Nothing could stop or slow her from seeing her sister again, even if she had to drag Kohaku, Shippou, and Kilala behind her the whole way.

Kaede just smiled. It was good to see life in her apprentice again.

It had been four hundred and three days since he'd seen her. He'd been through at least fourteen different villages, flirted with countless faceless women, and walked miles. But she still haunted him. You see, he'd made a mistake with her, one that would follow him until the day he died apparently. He'd allowed himself to hope.

Before he'd encountered her, Miroku was a man who did not believe in love. It was fleeting and disorienting, a feeling that anyone can get from a sake bottle with fewer consequences. He was instead, a follower of love's sister, lust, jumping from woman to woman without much care. After all, his days were numbered and there was no time or point for attachments.

But he met her, and his life changed, albeit slowly. He had friends, a connection in this world that wasn't his uncle or a bumbling raccoon. He woke up in the morning to breakfast and companionship. The best he'd had before was a worried looking woman hurrying him out of her home. He'd tried to keep his distance at first, distrusting that his luck could change so completely, but it proved to be futile.

You see, Kagome Higurashi was as ignorable as a one ton bear youkai.

Beguilingly innocent with an easy smile, and not omit, shapely legs, she'd turned any number of male heads on their travels, eliciting promises of marriage and claims of ownership from all manner of youkai. The really short skirt didn't hurt either.

But that wasn't it.

Certainly her eyes sparkled when she laughed and her hair was like silk, cascading around her face wild and free. Her face was one meant for angels, and her body, well, there were no complaints with her shape coming from him at all.

Still not what had caught him though...

It had been her heart. He was a man of the cloth, but no one he'd met could rival her for caring and generosity. He knew of no other miko that would take in an orphaned kitsune and raise him as her own. He didn't know a single woman who'd try to get to know a lecherous monk and befriend him. Most just brushed him aside.

And that had made him fiercely protective of the girl. He'd watched in simmering anger as her love, the only man she'd ever had eyes for, left her side repeatedly to be with Kikyo, a dead woman. He'd tried to comfort her, but he wasn't the one she'd wanted. No, for Miroku it was only a sad smile and a promise that she was OK, even though he could tell she was lying.

But he'd hoped anyway. Hoped that maybe, someday she would see him standing there. That she would someday know that when he slept at night, he could only dream of her and her smile. But that was futile too. After all, he was cursed and she was in love with some one else. They weren't living a fairy tale, and he had no right to hope.

It took until a week before Naraku's death for him to realize that.

She would never leave Inuyasha. And he was an idiot for staying. So, when the final battle was over, he left. There was no need to overstay one's welcome.

But he still hung on to the memories. He couldn't let them go. He neededsomething of her to carry with him after everything.

They were in a meadow with long grass and warm breezes. The night sky hung low, littered with stars glistening from the heavens. "Miroku?"

"Yes, Kagome-sama?"

Silence. "The stars are really pretty."

He sighed, "Yes they are."

He knew that wasn't what she'd wanted to say, but he kept his tongue, she'd work her way around to whatever it was in a while. After a long pause, "Does it hurt?"

Confused, he rolled to his side to look at her face, mildly amused that she was determined not to look at his, "Does what hurt, Kagome-sama?"

Her right hand gestured vaguely, "The Kazana."

Oh. "No."

She rolled over, smoothing the grass between them to meet his eye, "Liar." He smiled, saying absolutely nothing.

She smiled in return sadness still lingering in her eyes, her fingers playing dangerously with his beads, "It's really strange to me that something so seemingly small could hold something powerful at bay." He couldn't breathe, she was touching him and he couldn't breathe. "Honestly, they're just beads."

His head was swimming, but somehow he found words, "Its not the beads, Kagome-sama, its faith. Faith is the reason -" He took the liberty of tucking a stray bit of hair behind her ear, his fingers lingering briefly on her cheek, "faith is the reason that a young girl like yourself can fire an arrow into Naraku and make half his body purify."

She just smiled, and for once, she was happy.

It's been a long time and I'm rusty as hell. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.